Is it possible to breastfeed and work? The answer is simple – Yes.
The thought of returning to work is cause for an anxious time as it is, never mind that you have visions of leaking breasts, sobbing babies and noises of breast pumps coming from the toilets! Don’t stress about it. The more information you have, the less scary it will be.
Here are some pointers which will hopefully make the transition easier:
Expressing of milk:
- Try to express at the same time as the feed, or when your baby should be feeding i.e. 2 to 3 hourly
- Feeding at the same time as a feed helps a lot as while your baby is suckling on the one breast and he or she starts a let down, then it automatically lets down on the other breast too.
- Once you have expressed on the breast that your baby wasn’t on, you need to switch to the side he or she was suckling on and express off it so you can ensure you get some fore milk and some hind milk.
- You need to express for about ten minutes per side, starting on the softest suction and building up to the strongest.
- Remember that your milk supply goes through peaks and troughs so don’t despair if your supply varies from feed to feed.
- Another thing, the pump does not produce the same amount that your baby does when feeding off the breast. This is because your baby makes and lets down the milk during the feed, whereas the pump doesn’t. The supply will improve with each pumping.
- You do need to start quite a while before you start work for the above reason. It will take a while to build up enough of a supply to replace the feed. Patience, patience and more patience.
- It is worth investing in a good electric pump. It is a wonderful investment and saves on painful hands!
- You will eventually be able to only express once or twice a day.
- Don’t express before you baby is 6 weeks old and your breast feeding is established unless you have decided to only feed your baby expressed breast milk (EBM).
Storage of breast milk:
- This is such a versatile food source. Once you have expressed, you need to transfer the milk in to the storage container whether it be ice cube trays, plastic storage bags or plastic containers - there are many on the market.
- It can be stored for 24 hours in a fridge and up to 3 months in a normal freezer and 6 months in a chest freezer.
- Make sure you label the milk with the date, time etc and store the older milk towards the front of the freezer so you use that first.
- The formula you need to calculate the amount you need to feed your baby at each feed is: 150 X weight, divided by the number of feeds in 24 hours. To be safe add on 10 percent in case it’s not enough.
- Always have a supply as a back up as your baby may finish it all at one feed and leave some at others.
Never microwave the milk as this causes changes in the nutritional value, not to mention the risk of burning your baby.
- Throw away any milk that has been left over, if it hasn’t been drunk within an hour.
- Don’t store your milk if you have been diagnosed with thrush. freezing it doesn’t kill it and you will just re-infect both of you.
Giving the breast milk in a bottle:
- This can be very frustrating especially if your baby refuses to take the bottle. Just persevere as they have good reserves. If they refuse for a few feeds, try not to give in to giving your breast - they will eventually eat.
- It helps to give the bottle to someone else to feed your baby - try going out for a while to test the situation out and give the other person a chance to feed your baby. It is so hard but I promise you it gets easier.
- Check the flow from the teat, the temperature of the milk and ensure that it doesn’t take longer than half an hour to feed.
- Try to be strong and know that this is a big step for both of you – go gently and know that you are not alone and that you are being the best mother you can be.